A Google engineer is reviewing third-party USB Type-C cables on Amazon so you don’t have to.
The USB Vigilante—aka Benson Leung—worked on two Chromebook Pixel laptops using the latest cables and their related technologies. “It really is an amazing little connector,” he wrote in a Google+ post.
But Leung discovered a universal truth about the new technology: “USB Type-C will only be as good as its ecosystem, and more specifically, the worst of its ecosystem,” he said.
Fed up with early cables from third-party vendors “that so blatantly flaunt the specification,” Leung has begun critiquing USB-C connectors on Amazon, because “I want to hold them to task.”
With fellow Google engineer Vincent Palatin, Leung posted a set of instructions for Pixel 2015 laptop owners to test whether their USB Type A/B-to-USB Type-C adapter is spec compliant.
First, put the computer in dev mode, then plug one end of the suspect USB cable into the machine, and the other end into a DCP charging wall unit—”preferably one you don’t have any sort of sentimental attachment to,” Leung warned.
In the case of a bad cable, the program will show Type-C with a 3000mA max, which, according to the engineers, means the resistor setting is wrong. Also, if you see Type-C, but know the other end of the cable is Type-A, just toss it. And look out for CC lines that are floating, Palatin added. Pixel owners who don’t want to deal with developer commands can follow Leung’s directions for testing in normal mode.
If you’re concerned about blowing up your computer or setting fire to a wall charger, it’s best to stick with cables purchased from reputable retailers. Those from FRiEQ, Belkin, and iOrange all pass muster; steer clear of products from CableCreation, Monba, Kupx, Juiced Systems, Orzly, and TechMatte.